A new book, Ruthless Campaign: A Woman's Guide to Political Victory, is bylined J D Herman, so Renoites may be forgiven if they do not recognize the author as their former city councilmember Judy Pruett Herman.
What made you write?
Because I believe that women who don’t help other women, there’s a special place for them in hell. And what I noticed when I ran for office and when I was in office, that women didn’t help each other. And so I wrote this book to specifically to help young women and women who want to get into politics to show them exactly how and what they have to do.
When I first picked it up, I thought it was going to be humorous, from the art on the outside. But it is a serious book.
It’s serious, and there are some humorous areas, but yes, it is serious.
Around here, at least, you’re known as Judy Herman or Judy Pruett Herman. But the byline is J D Herman. Haven’t you surrendered some sales by losing the recognition factor?
It could be, but I wasn’t really looking for local sales. If your name is Judy, and you were born in the 1940s, late ’40s, it’s not a serious name. And so that’s why I selected J D. Years ago, I wrote for a shipping company when I was living in New Zealand. And I found that the only way I could be published by the magazine was to put J D Herman, because then they didn’t know I was a woman. So I selected this because over the years I just found that Judy wasn’t the most professional name.
What kind of reactions have you gotten so far?
Most of my friends are surprised by it, because they thought it would be humor or it would be a get-even book, and it’s neither one. It’s just straightforward, Here’s what happens, here’s what you must do. And to try to help some people to get over that idea that going into politics is just because you want to do the right thing. You have to do a lot more than that.
It’s a how-to book, basically. It’s not a treatise on political science, it’s just about how to run for office.
Right. It’s a basic book for women in small- to medium-sized towns and cities for any kind of race. … People giving them money, paying attention to the titans and the people who actually run whatever area they want to work in. Say you’re running for a school board. It takes you ten, twenty thousand dollars. You still have to know who to kowtow to. You have to know who’s really in charge.
Does it talk about the mental ordeal of running for office?
I think there’s a few areas that I talked about that. It’s mostly pretty devastating if you don’t know what to expect.